Calcium is best known as the chief building block of healthy bones and teeth. It is also essential for the proper function of nerves, muscles, heartbeat, blood clotting and maintenance of the immune system.
Natural sources: Dairy products, kale, kelp, turnip greens, canned salmon, sardines.
RDA: Varied from 1000 to 1500 mg, depending on age, gender and other considerations. Ask our pharmacists for help in determining the dosage level best suited to your needs.
Precautions: Excessive intake can cause gastric irritation, constipation, and changes in heart rate. Patients with kidney disease or those receiving digitalis or thiazide diuretics should ask their physician’s advice about appropriate levels of calcium intake.
Chloride is part of the mineral-laden fluid found both inside and outside the body’s cells. Its ions act as electrolytes, conveying electrical charges needed to activate nerve impulses.
Natural sources: Any source of table salt. (The iodized form is preferable.)
RDA: There is no set RDA.
Precautions: Excessive intake can cause headaches, drowsiness, confusion, and irregular heartbeat. Patients with heart and/or kidney disease are generally advised to restrict their level of chloride intake.
Magnesium is necessary for every major bio-logic process in the body, including the production of energy from sugar and the manufacture of genetic material. Low intake has been associated with high blood pressure and heart disease. Magnesium is also found in bones.
Natural sources: Whole grains, nuts, avocados, beans, dark green leafy vegetables.
RDA: 240 mg to 420 mg.
Precautions: Excessive intake can impair thinking, cause diarrhea and lower blood pressure. Patients with kidney problems should avoid magnesium.
Potassium plays an important role in muscle contraction, nerve conduction, regulation of heartbeat, energy production and the manufacture of genetic material and protein. Insufficient intake appears to be linked to increased blood pressure and the risk of stroke.
Natural sources: Fruits (especially bananas) and vegetables (and their juices), baked potatoes, yams, avocados, prunes, beet greens, carrot juice, raisins, shellfish and beans. Sports drinks also are a source of potassium.
RDA: 1600 to 2000 mg
Precautions: Excessive intake can cause numb-ness of extremities, mental confusion, weakness, and fall in blood pressure, cold skin and changes in heart rate. Patients with heart or kidney problems should use with caution.
Phosphorous is integral to the body’s overall metabolic reactions. It also interacts with calcium to strengthen bones and teeth. Phosphorous deficiency most commonly develops in people who have persistent vomiting, disorders of vitamin D metabolism, kidney and liver disorders, and excessive alcohol intake.
Natural sources: Meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dried beans and peas, milk and products.
RDA: 700 mg to 1250 mg.
Precautions: Excessive intake can cause mental confusion, listlessness, numbness of extremities, high blood pressure and irregular heart beat.
Sodium, like chloride, is an electrolyte. It helps maintain the body’s fluid balance by moving fluids in and out of the cells.
Natural sources: Most dietary items contain some sodium. Processed foods, lunch meats and snacks typically contain large amounts.
RDA: While there is no set RDA, an intake of 500 mg a day is considered safe and adequate. Most Americans eat 6 to 8 times as much as that.
Precautions: Excessive sodium intake has been associated with increased risk for high blood pressure. It can also cause restlessness, weakness, and thirst, flushing of the skin, dizziness, and headache. Sodium should be used cautiously in patients with diseases or disorders of the heart, kidney or liver.
The rocky road to good health
Like protein, carbohydrates, fats, sugar and vitamins, minerals are an essential part of the human body’s total nutritional requirement. The minerals covered in this booklet are classified as “major,” because the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of each is at least 100 milligrams (mg). Minerals required in amounts of less than 100 mg per day are also known as “trace elements.” They are discussed in the book-let of that name, also available at this store.
From supper to supplement
For some people, satisfying the recommended intake of certain minerals through diet alone can be difficult. In such cases, supplementation may be critical to maintaining good health. If you do use supplements, be aware of these precautions: